Italy is an absolutely beautiful country filled with culture, history, and beautiful places like Rome, Naples, Lombardy . . . and Iowa?
One of the largest and most successful pasta producers in the world is facing a class-action lawsuit for marketing itself as “Italy’s No. 1 Brand of Pasta” despite its pasta being produced in distinctly unItalian locations like Iowa and New York.
Barilla, which accounts for roughly 25% of the entire U.S. pasta market, is being sued for allegedly misleading customers into believing their pasta products were actually made in Italy.
Barilla calls itself “Italy’s No. 1 Brand of Pasta” and its trademark blue boxes of pasta all prominently feature the red, green, and white Italian flag. Plaintiffs Matthew Sinatro and Jessica Prost claim they bought multiple boxes of Barilla spaghetti and angel hair pasta because they believed the food had been made in Italy using Italian ingredients.
They’re claiming they overpaid for the pasta under false pretenses, demanding monetary compensation, and requesting that Barilla stop using “Italy’s likeness” in its marketing and promotional materials.
The lawsuit also alleges Barilla does not use exclusively Italian wheat in its food products, effectively exploiting and deceiving consumers willing to pay a higher price for an “authentic” Italian product.
In all fairness to Barilla, the company was founded in Parma, Italy, way back in 1877. Since then, however, the food company has moved its headquarters to Illinois.
The pasta producer denies attempting to deceive shoppers in any way, instead arguing its branding is intended to “invoke the company’s Italian roots through generalized representations of the brand as a whole.”
Barilla had attempted to have the class action lawsuit thrown out, but the case will be moving forward, as Judge Donna Ryu denied Barilla’s motion for dismissal this week.
This story is curiously similar to another lawsuit recently filed against the makers of Texas Pete hot sauce by a California resident who found out the item is actually made in North Carolina. At least Barilla doesn’t have “Italy” in its brand name!